The Batten School Community Once Again Gives Back - and Celebrates - During the Holiday Season

Batten School students including (from L to R) Michael York, Jia Williams, Ahana Rosha and Avneet Chhabra led efforts to give back to local families this holiday season.
Batten School students including (from L to R) Michael York, Jia Williams, Ahana Rosha and Avneet Chhabra led efforts to give back to local families this holiday season.

This holiday season, the Batten School community came together once again to give back and act in meaningful service. During a semester that was peppered with impactful events, both tragic and uplifting, the opportunity to thoughtfully commemorate the end of the academic period was a powerful reminder of what being a part of Batten means.

The Batten School has contributed to UVA’s broader Holiday Sharing program since the school was founded 15 years ago. But this was the second year they have been an official partner.

“This year, our collaboration began early in the fall and benefited greatly from our BA and MPP students’ existing relationships and efforts across Grounds to alleviate food insecurity,” said Batten School Senior Assistant Dean Jill Rockwell.  “We have Batten students who were already leading efforts behind the food pantry at Newcomb and serving in leadership roles at Madison House. This allowed us to build upon our students’ prior work in this space and made the contributions of our students, faculty, and staff to the food drive that much more meaningful.”

Altogether, under the leadership of both the Batten Undergraduate and Graduate Councils, the Batten School raised more than $3,000 in funds and collected holiday meal kits for approximately 75 local families.

Shawn Anderson, Batten’s assistant director of student services, who was also engaged in last year’s campaign, noted that this year’s drive brought just as much enthusiasm and passion from students, faculty and staff.

“At the Batten School, we strive to be models of leadership, thinking of our broader community and, really, the world at-large,” said Anderson. “This year, the food drive reminded us how we have opportunities to do that, to lead from anywhere, almost every day. I am proud of the work we’ve done as a community.”

In fact, the outpouring of generosity placed the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy on a list of organizations displaying high rates of participation in the state’s annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC).

Paul Martin Gingerbread
Batten School associate professor of public policy Paul Martin displays a fun class exercise that took advantage of the holiday spirit.

But the end of the semester provided not only moments of service but of celebration. While priority was placed on mental health and academic success, with services from a newly embedded student counseling service (including opportunities for small group sessions, expression through art therapy and anxiety-reducing visualization exercises), to help process the terrible shooting on Grounds, the Batten School found power in gathering together. Many of those community moments came with an incredible amount of joy. With a hot chocolate bar in Dean Solomon’s pavilion for Lighting of the Lawn, a cookie-decorating break with the help of Jaclyn’s Cookies, and soup dinner with music courtesy of Professor Dan Player, there were many moments of cheer as students rounded out 2022.

“It has been so nice to have such a tight-knit community like Batten at a big school,” said Izzy Hamilton (BA ‘23). “My cohort has been able to grow as close friends not only through academics, but through opportunities to come together and give back. It is going to be very difficult to say goodbye to this wonderful community next semester!”

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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